Creating the next generation of sustainable products
Developing planet-friendly new products can be like playing multiple games of chess all at the same time. Finding effective ingredients that are gentle on the environment, at a price point that makes the end-product affordable for the supermarket shopper is quite a challenge. No-one understands this better than Gill Worth, Earthwise’s product development chemist.
Gill started off her career as an environmental chemist but has extensive experience in the cosmetics and skin care industry after working on personal care products for the past eight years. A self-confessed ‘greenie’, Gill drives a 100% electric car to combat the ‘stop/start’ of Auckland traffic. With a range of more than 200km, costing a mere $7.50 to recharge each week, she is a complete convert. Gill loves working with a company that takes sustainability as seriously as she does.
“The idea of bringing products to the supermarket that use good ingredients that are safe for us and safe for the planet with good, solid claims data for performance is very exciting. There are new plant-based ingredients coming out all the time, so it’s a fast-moving area to work in.”
Over the last decade, Gill has noticed an increase in consumer influence on the type of ingredients coming to market: “New plant-based active ingredients are constantly being developed — and they are becoming more and more effective. It’s a fascinating field.
“These days the consumer is much better informed and more aware. If a product gets a bad review online, the whole world knows about it the next day. We live in a global village where discussions aren’t limited by geography.”
With parabens on the out, other preservatives will be next in the firing line according to GIll. Preservatives are necessary for product safety – so that goods can be opened and used multiple times over a three-month period – but consumers are demanding safe, plant-based ingredients to do the job.
Researching and considering the relative merits of new ingredients is an important part of Gill’s job at Earthwise. “I look for award-winning new ingredients and claims data. Ingredients are tested in a laboratory (in vitro), in vivo and in clinical volunteer trials by the manufacturer before they are considered ready for use. We then look carefully at their impact on the environment before they come under consideration at Earthwise.”
When asked why Gill chose to work with Earthwise, she doesn’t hesitate: “Earthwise is very proactive when it comes to using new, gentle plant-based ingredients. They were one of the first companies to bring out supermarket personal care products that didn’t contain sodium coco sulphate (which is at least 50% sodium lauryl sulfate — a very irritating surfactant). When I looked at their formulations, I was very impressed.”
“My big goal is to be the best formulator in New Zealand, working for a company with strong ideals and ethics. We want to make great products accessible to everyone. It’s a case of staying ahead of the next new ingredient coupled with a focus on continuous improvement. At Earthwise, we keep working on choosing a gentler alternative to give consumers choice while improving product performance. I love being part of a team working together to achieve a common goal.”
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